Thursday 27 Nov 2014
A couple from the North West of England struggling to care for their two disabled children at home have spoken out after they say Prime Minister David Cameron failed to act on a personal promise of help he made to them live on television. Their story can be seen on Inside Out North West (BBC One, Monday 7 February at 7.30pm).
Ged and Janet Fay, from Withington, Manchester, have been battling the authorities for over 25 years to get the right education and care for their daughter Jerry, 19, and son Daniel, 25. Both are autistic and Jerry has severe learning difficulties while Daniel has the mental age of a 7-year-old.
For the past 12 years they have had a lifeline, as five days a week Jerry has gone to a residential school in Yorkshire, although it took two years and the threat of high court action to get her there. Now, nearly 20, she is due to leave school and the couple are desperate for more help.
They reveal on Inside Out how they thought a lifeline had been thrown to them last summer when Ged came face to face with David Cameron and the pledge of help was made.
Ged was in the audience during a Q&A session with the Prime Minister in Manchester in August. It was here that he took the opportunity to tell David Cameron of their most recent battle – to get equipment for a sensory room that had been built for Jerry but which remained empty.
His sense of hopelessness was highlighted when he told the Prime Minister he sometimes "feels like jumping off a bridge... We're getting to the stage where a bridge looks appetising to get our loved ones on and jump off."
David Cameron reacted by saying: "We should always try to keep our children at home, rather than have them go into care. So, if it's not working, I'll help you, if necessary, to bash down the walls of the council to make sure the social workers are listening to you, because, in the end, you pay your taxes. So they're there to help you with your children and the longer your children can live with you, that is a much better way than having them go into care. I have tried to answer as best I can."
Ged says he thought his prayers had been answered but the only word that followed from Downing Street was a standard letter from a junior minister in the Department of Health after the family's MP, John Leech, wrote reminding the PM of his pledge.
Janet was so upset she wrote directly to Mr Cameron. But their wait continued until, having been filming their struggle for over a year, BBC Inside Out contacted Number 10 directly.
Mr Cameron wrote back personally, expressing his sympathy for the family and offering practical advice. But all his recommendations had already been tried by Ged and Janet.
Now the couple have told BBC Inside Out of their anger and disappointment. Ged says: "It's not productive, it's not helpful. It's not wanted, it's not needed... He made a promise to me – I didn't ask him for his help, he offered. I'm sorry, if need be I'll go down to London and I'll knock on his door. If he doesn't want to come up to Manchester, I'll go down to London. I'll bring my kids down to his door."
The couple clearly love their children, saying Jerry and Daniel have made them stronger, and they have vowed to keep on fighting. But they can't hide their disappointment in Mr Cameron.
Ged says: "We've taken the fight for our kids to barristers and lawyers and we'll keep on battling. We're a strong unit but families like ours deserve actions not words."
Inside Out can be seen on BBC One in the North West on Monday 7 February at 7.30pm. Viewers outside the North West can view the programme on digital channel 978 or at bbc.co.uk/iplayer.
Information contained in this press release, including quotes, which you use in your publication, online or for broadcast, require a credit for Inside Out North West, BBC One, Monday 7 February at 7.30pm.
This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.